BEDFORD - One could say that the Chestnut Ridge softball team has been unlucky in its past four PIAA first-round appearances.
After winning the previous four District 5 Class AA title games, the Lady Lions dropped each of its four PIAA games that followed.
Leading 5-4 heading to Ligonier Valley's half of the seventh inning, Chestnut Ridge committed three errors, two of which came with two outs, to allow Ligonier Valley to walk away with a win, 6-5, Tuesday and move on to the quarterfinals.
If losing four straight is unlucky, five seems like a curse to Chestnut Ridge coach Chuck Corle.
"I just shake my head," Corle said. "It's like were snakebitten. To [lose a PIAA game] time and time again. It takes 22 games to get back to this point, that's how hard you work to do it. Maybe it's pressure, maybe we're just trying a little bit too hard. It's just a very frustraing situation."
After Courtney Lear reached on an error to start the Ligonier seventh, Ridge chose to walk leadoff hitter Maddy Grimm, the Kent State-bound shortstop who was hitting .585. Grimm already had two hits in the game, including a two-run home run over the center field wall in the fifth inning.
Following two fielder's choice plays that set runners at first and third with two outs, cleanup hitter Courtney Frappier hit a ground ball to shortstop Mackenzie Feather, who was just feet away from the game-ending out at second base. Feather could not handle the ground ball, which got sent into center field, allowing Grimm to score and tie the game at five. Rachel Wallace hit a grounder to first base on the next play, and Samantha Knisely could not gather the ball, allowing Breane Wallace to trot in for the eventual game-winning run.
"We knew we had to put [the ball] in play and let chips fall where they may," Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said."Getting our leadoff hitter on was paramount because there's a good chance you'll score."
Grimm started the scoring in the top of the third inning when she hit a fly ball deep to left-center field. Center fielder Stephanie Deaner and left fielder Kenzie Bowser each ran toward the ball, but it eventually was dropped by Deaner and rolled to the fence, allowing Grimm to motor all the way around to score.
"Maddy is Maddy," Zimmerman said. "No matter what she does, it doesn't surprise me. I knew when they fell she had a great chance [to score]. It doesn't take her long to get around the bases."
Grimm finshed with two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored.
"She's a very good player that leads that team well," Corle said. "We were trying to work around her to different spots. In the end we just gave them one too many chances."
Ridge didn't allow the lead to last long, as Kristi Batzel led off the bottom of the third with a home run over the right field fence. The Lady Lions took the lead later in the inning when Feather scored on a groundout by Deaner.
Grimm took the lead back in the fifth inning with her two-run home run, but once again Ridge returned the favor. Feather, Jennifer Carthew and Bridgit Yothers each singled to load the bases with one out, before Deaner hit the ball over the left fielder's head, clearing the bases to give Ridge a 5-3 lead after five innings.
Feather, Carthew and Yothers each finished with two hits for the Lady Lions.
Ligonier added one run in the sixth inning before scoring its two unearned runs in the seventh. The Lady Rams move on to the quarterfinals, while Chestnut Ridge ended its season at 20-3.
"It's back to the drawing board," Corle said. "We're losing five seniors, including two tough girls in Yothers and Deaner. We've got others coming up to keep the program going. We just have to keep trying to do what we've been doing. Eventually we will get that win."
LIGONIER VALLEY (6): Grimm ss 332, Berry lf 300, B. Wallace 3b 411, Frappier 1b 402, Kuhn cr 010 R. Wallace rf 400, Yesky 2b 300, Lynch c 401, Michaels cr 000, Markosky cf 200, Lear dh 310, Umbaugh p 000. Totals-30-6-6.
CHESTNUT RIDGE (5): Feather ss 422, Carthew 2b 312, Yothers p 412, Deaner cf 301, Knisely 1b 300, Bowser lf 300, Fickes c 301, O'Brien cr 000, Neatrour rf 300, Batzel 3b 311. Totals-29-5-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Ligonier Valley001 021 2 - 6 6 1
Chestnut Ridge002 030 0 - 5 9 5
E-Yesky, Carthew, Batzel, Feather, Knisely, Deaner. 2B-Frappier, Deaner. HR-Grimm, Batzel. RBI-Grimm 2, Lynch, Deaner 4, Batzel.
LIGONIER VALLEY: Umbaugh (W); 7IP, 9H, 5R, 5 ER, 6K, 0 BB.
CHESTNUT RIDGE: Yothers (L); 7IP, 6H, 6R, 3 ER, 5 K, 3 BB.
Records: Ligonier Valley (17-4); Chestnut Ridge (20-3).